Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I've been working on some new product pictures. I love my vintage letterpress drawer ($1 thrift store find!) my vintage aqua Melmac bowl ($0.50 thrift store find!) my vintage embroidery hoop (free!) my vintage wooden thread spools (free! right there, right above the buttons - there's two of them) and my vintage buttons (free!) that I got from a sweet swap partner. I love vintage, it just has so much character.


(pattern is available in the shop)

Upholstery Heaven!

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Last month I visited a place that I've been meaning to stop at every time I drive by. The conditions were finally right; I was in the area, no kids with me, and I had my camera. Mr. PD was there as a bonus! Downings General Store in down town Anniston Alabama is an upholsterers dream come true.

They had so many bolts of scrumptious fabrics and all were reasonably priced. Much cheaper than Hobby Lobby or Joann's even with a coupon. Most fabrics were priced at around $7-$8 a yard! Now I know where I will go for my next upholstery project.



Etsy Love Wednesday

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I would really love to get into an autumn mood but it is hard to do when it's still in the 90's here in Alabama. I realize that if I wait until it cools down to pull out my fall decorations they will only be out for a few weeks. Maybe I'll get to it this week.

I created this Etsy treasury, "Persimmony Falls," as an ode of things to come! This is my favorite orange hue. Call it what you will; persimmon, burnt orange, rusty orange, it's delicious! In fact I just bought a dress in this lovely hue on clearance for $9 {woo hoo!} Mr. PD called me a ruffly pumpkin. hmmph! He should know better than to tease his wife! Luckily I got several nice comments on my dress so it will not be banished to the back of my closet!

 Does it feel like Autumn in your neck of the woods?


Crafting for Good

Monday, September 20, 2010
The other day my son came home with a reading book from school. The poor book had seen better days and was falling apart despite the tape found on almost every page. I decided to use my crafting powers for good and sent a note to the teacher saying I'd be very happy and willing to repair the book. She sent the book back to me and I used this nifty tutorial on Design Sponge to fix the sad little book.

First I took the book completely apart  and squared up the edges of the pages that would be along the binding. Then I pretty much followed the tutorial. Unfortunately I did not have any regular masking tape so I had to use blue painter's tape to cover up the spine once I was done.

Have you used your crafting powers for good lately?

if not, you can bake me some cookies and send them to me. Just sayin'


Updated Tutorial Page

Saturday, September 18, 2010
I have finally updated the "Tutorials" page. You can access this page from the top "menu" bar. Now you can browse through all 18 tutorials by picture.

Don't forget to submit any of your creations to the Petit Design Co. Flickr pool.


Another blog...

Friday, September 17, 2010
as if I don't have enough to do on this blog I've created another blog. At least this one is not at all about me...
ok so I lied...
maybe it is a tiny bit about me, but not much at all. Come on over and visit the Lick Skillet Quilt Guild blog.

You will not regret it, these are world class quilters that can crank out those quilts like fried green tomatoes!

Have you checked out your LQG (local quilt guild) yet?


DQS 9 Reveal

Thursday, September 16, 2010
Here is the quilt that I made for my wonderful partner Susan for the Doll Quilt Swap round 9.

I used some Tula Pink Flutterby for the binding.

And here's the whole thing. Susan has a much better picture though.

The quilt measures approximately 19"x19" and is a design by Irena Bluhm. I learned about Irena recently and even went ahead and purchased her "Quilts of a different color" book hoping to learn a few more tricks to improve my technique. I came to find out that she pretty much uses the same technique I do with the colored pencils. Still, it's a good book to have around for some eye candy.


I Failed... or Did I?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Yesterday's plan of getting that quilt off my design wall was a major fail! I got busy doing a furniture shuffle in my little sewing room. I ended up rearranging the desks into a "U" shaped configuration. Previously the massive wood office desk was sitting in the middle of the room like an island. The other 3 tables formed an "L" against one wall. The island work center worked well except that the room felt crowded and I had to walk across the room and around the desk to the ironing board, which usually sat in front of the design wall.

This is what it looks like now:

Doesn't it look more efficient? Now I can wheel myself around to each "station" without having to get up and walk around. Much more efficient for working on projects. More efficient for building up that Quilter's Butt. Maybe not so efficient for burning calories! Good thing my BFF is keeping me on track with our morning runs.

What's that? You want to know about my new ironing board?

I'll tell you how to make your own. You'll need: Plywood, batting, fabric, and a heavy duty staple gun

Here's how I made mine:

First I ran down stairs to Mr. PD's workshop, which I recently cleaned for him (only because I have to walk through that room every time we go or come back from somewhere and because I was tired of tripping over extension cords in the dark.) I figured he owed me, so I helped myself to his stash. He better not get any ideas about helping himself to my stash though! I looked around and spotted a piece of plywood that was the perfect size so I didn't even have to cut it down. My piece of plywood measures 30"x36" but you can use any size that will work for your space. You can even make a mini one for your mini iron!

Then I lugged the plywood upstairs and gathered the rest of my supplies. You'll need a thin batting (I used some Warm N' Natural) and a piece of fabric that is about 1.5" bigger than your board on each side. So my fabric and batting measured approximately 33"x39"

Regular iron board covers are pretty fluffy and there is quite a bit of give when you press down on the surface.. I've heard it's easier to get crisp seams if you have a harder surface. That is why I used a thin batting and only one layer of it.

Next you will lay your batting on top of your board. make sure it lays nice and flat. Then lay your fabric on top of the batting, again making sure it lays nice and flat. Now flip the whole thing over onto the back side of the board. A few pins placed in the corners will keep the fabric and batting from shifting as you flip the whole thing over.

The last step is to stretch the fabric and batting taught as you tack it down with your staple gun every 4"-6". Here's a picture of how I did my corners.

Now flip it over and you're done!

One note, make sure you are using plywood and not OSB/particle board! MDF is probably ok.



Monday, September 13, 2010
I will finally get this off my design wall.

This morning I finally made the last 6 blocks I needed for the top. This has been up on my wall for... oh a mere 3 months. It's time to get it done and put something else up. These were blocks made by members of my LQG. I won the drawing and these lovely blocks came home with me. It took me a long time to get each and every block squared up to 8.5"x8.5" They are not perfect but since I squared them up on the diagonal (or as close to it as possible) you can't even tell. Well that's not entirely true, you can tell that some blocks are just a wee bit wonky, but at least it not screaming at me anymore! I was surprised at the different levels of piecing and the vast difference in finished size of the blocks. The biggest tip I can give you is to really work on your 1/4" seam allowance!! Perfecting this will bring your quilts to a whole new level. I guarantee it. You can read more about the elusive 1/4" seam here, here, and here.

The pattern is Mock Log Cabin/Paradigm Shift featured in McCall's Quilting May/June 2010 issue. You can find free pillow instructions here. The large pillow blocks are the exact same construction/size as the ones for the quilt blocks, just arranged differently. You need 42 blocks to make a 52x60" quilt.


My Favorite Free Motion Quilting Tools

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Besides having the basics like a sewing machine with the ability to drop the feed dogs, a free motion foot, a table at the correct height for you and comfy chair, these are the items that I rely on the most for achieving awesome free motion results on a domestic sewing machine.

These are the tools I use every time I sit down to free motion quilt (that plus a seam ripper too.) They are in no particular order and no one tool is more important than the other. Together they create the ideal conditions for my success in free motion quilting. They may or may not work for you, but hopefully one of them will.
  • Light
  • Silicone Spray
  • Sketchbook
  • Practice quilt
  • Foam stack
  • Sew Slip
  • Quilting gloves
Light: You definitely need good lighting in your sewing area. One over head light fixture is not going to provide you with enough light to see, especially if you quilt at night. Invest in some lamps to brighten your work space. I have 2 torch lamps ($8 ea. Target), 1 table lamp ($9 Target) , and the goose neck lamp you see pictured ($3 Walmart)  in addition to the builders grade single light bulb fixture on the ceiling. I like to keep the goose neck lamp right by the sewing machine and I move it around to different spots and can get the light right where I need it the most. The tiny little light bulb that comes on your sewing machine is nowhere near enough light for sewing. While you are at it, swap out all your bulbs for Reveal/daylight/full spectrum bulbs, you won't regret it!

Silicone Spray: This stuff is great for slicking up your machine bed and sewing table. I have to warn you though, this is NOT at all like the silicone spray at the hardware store. The stuff I use is from Sprayway and it is a dry spray, won't stain, and doesn't have a smell either. This stuff is used in the garment making industry so yes it is safe for fabrics and for your machine. Don't believe me? Alex and Ricky seem to think it's good stuff. You also have to be careful about over spray on wood floors. No it's not bad for wood, in fact it's a great polisher but it makes those wood floors super slick, especially in socks! It's not expensive at all ($5-$8.)  It is kind of hard to find locally but you can buy it online. The bad part is that it has to ship via ground mail so the shipping price is $6-$9!! If you are buying 1 can it won't be worth it but maybe you can get together with your guild or Local Quilt Shop and order a larger quantity to make it worth it. The other down side is that your husband will be stealing it to use it in his workshop!

Sketchbook: Success in free motion quilting will come if you practice practice practice! You don't have to sit down at the machine every time. Sketching your quilting patterns over and over is as useful as doing it with the machine. Doing this will make your patterns second nature and they will just flow when you actually sit at the sewing machine.
One of my many sketch books, I won this one from Ashley, and it matches the fabric I won from Ryan.

Any sketchbook will do as long as you can write on it. I even use the cheap composition books with the Kindergarten writing paper in it. The lines are useful for practicing feathers and loops. Keep it with you so you can sketch when you see a really cool pattern or to practice when you're waiting for something.

Practice Quilt: I've had the same practice quilt for over a year now. As you can see from the picture it is well used. It measures about 20"x20" and it sits by my sewing machine. Anytime I am going to free motion I start on this quilt first. It helps me loosen up and to get into my groove! It also helps me figure out any tension problems before moving on to the actual quilt. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to skip this step and move straight to the main quilt. This is always a huge mistake for me. If I try to skip the practice quilt I will end up with birds nests, tension problems, or uneven stitches.

Foam Stack: Yup, you read that right and it's exactly as stated, a stack of foam! Basically I purchased a sheet of craft foam and cut several pieces about the size of a business card and then glued them together with Elmer's glue. I used seven layers of foam in my stacks. What in the world is this for? Think of it as a Quilter's Mouse (and no you can't take my name!) It is meant to sit just under the palm of your hand just like a computer mouse. The foam is extremely grippy and you don't need much pressure in order to move your quilt around. I like this a lot because my hands feel more relaxed than when I try to quilt with just gloves. It may sound absurd but don't knock it 'til you try it! Sometimes I quilt with a mouse in each hand and other times with one, it just depends on what I'm doing.

Sew Slip: This is a Teflon coated sheet that sticks to your machine or your craft table with out tape or glue. I really like the generous size when compared to other sheets out on the market. I tried both the Supreme Slider and the Sew Slip

Quilting Gloves: Last but not least are my red quilting gloves. Yes they have to be red. The blues and yellows don't work nearly as well as the cute red ones! Really the only thing necessary in quilting gloves are the little white gripper dots on the finger tips and the palms. A pair of gardening gloves would probably work. A pair of footed pajamas would work if you wanted to give it a go at quilting with your feet. I use both my quilting gloves and my Quilter's Mouse together 95% of the time. It just gives me that extra grip I need.

That's what works for me. I'm always open to suggestions though. What free motion tool can you not live without?


Portrait Silhouette Giveaway

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Head on over to A Little Etsy Love and be entered to win one of my custom Portrait Silhouettes.

While you're there make sure you bookmark their site. A Little Etsy Love has awesome weekly giveaways featuring tons of Etsy shops. I love Etsy + free = win win!


The Best Day Ever

Friday, September 3, 2010
... OK so there may be a few more "best days" in my life ahead of this one but, boy did I have a great day yesterday!

First I won a GO! Like for reals!!!!! wooo hoooo!
from Karen who has very lovely blog. (I've already bookmarked several of her "Tool Time Tuesday ideas.)

Then I went running 3 miles in perfect weather with my BFF so it only felt like 1 mile.
I only wish my running route took me in front of the Louvre
So I realized that I don't have a picture of my BFF. Does that mean she's not my BFF? {note to self get a pic with my BFF.} This girl is serious fun! She has made my life in Alabama bearable {sorry to all you AL natives, but It's the truth.} Aren't you all jealous, she got to go to Paris recently-ish, maybe she'll take me next time and we'll use her new red suitcase too.

Then I cleaned out the storage room which we always walk through when we get home.
 {OK so cleaning is obviously not on my list of "best day" activities but I was productive and I will no longer trip on hoses and extension cords in the dark!}  The storage room is actually clean in this picture taken a few weeks ago.

Then I had lunch with my lovely girl (she cracks me up.)

Then I got some awesome goodies in the mail.
I invested in 500 "premium" business cards. I guess I'm really serious about this business thing now. If I flop though, my kids have already called dibs on the cards. Glad they have my back.

I also got a fun little package that contained this:

ooh these are my favorite
I want them as earrings... I'll have to see if I can make that work somehow...

and this lovely fabric sunrise with bubbly clouds... or a lovely sunflower with bubbles

Either way I love it dearly! It was made by the talented JMB. She was my secret partner for the DQS9. Go check out her lovely blog too. It's perfect for me thank you so much J!

To top it all off I made Normandy Chicken for dinner. (I'll post the recipe soon)

A perfectly awesome day in my book. September has more than made up for the awful July and the 5 bats {or was it 4? does it really matter? they were in my HOUSE in my BEDROOM!!!} that terrorized me in my own home in July and August.

I think September just moved up a couple of notches. It's right up there with December, April, May and March.

Have a great September!
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